Managing money can get stressful for your loved ones as they get older and their health declines. Technology changes, taxes become more complex and banking laws get updated. At a certain point, they may need your help organizing their finances. Here are a few tips to helping seniors stay on track with bills:
Look Out for Signs
Watch your loved ones closely for any serious health issues, like dementia. If they begin forgetting things, must stay in the hospital for an extended duration, or start feeling under the weather more frequently, money management may be neglected. A senior probably won’t let on that she or he needs help, so you should check in from time to time to make sure their bills are being paid. Asking straightforward questions about their finances, like “Are you doing alright with money, Mom?” can also help, but make sure to be sensitive about it.
Prevent Trouble Before It Begins
Be proactive. If you notice your loved one is struggling to manage money, work out a plan to make sure her bills are being received and paid. You can direct her mail to your house so you can review any bills or bank statements. Taking over receivership will prevent the loss of important documents and limit the potential for identity theft or fraud. If the health of your loved one declines to the point where she is unable to manage her finances at all, consider discussing power of attorney with her, which allows you to make financial decisions on her behalf. Heading off any potential money problems before your loved ones run into them will save them, and you, a lot of stress.
Set Up Automatic Billing
With your loved one’s permission, you can help set up automatic bill payments bills directly from a bank account or credit card. You can also help arrange for direct deposit, Social Security, pension or investment checks. Some seniors may be wary of technology if they don’t understand it, but with your help they will be more amenable to automatic options. Technology makes bill paying a lot easier for seniors. Just make sure you monitor any fund transfers to ensure they are being deposited or withdrawn correctly.
Keep Seniors Involved
At some point, you may have to handle all your loved ones’ finances, but you don’t want them to ever feel useless. It’s important that they feel they still have some control of their finances even with your assistance. Make sure to keep them in the loop when it comes to money and budgeting. Involve them in the decision-making process for as long as possible.